Barbie first appeared for the first time in 1959. Before Barbie was created, most dolls for girls were baby dolls, made to play house with. While in Switzerland, Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler picked up a German doll called Lilli for their daughter. They noticed that she enjoyed playing with the more “adult” style doll. They purchased the rights to the Lilli doll and changed the design with inspiration from Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn and Marylin Monroe. The doll was seen as too mature for young girls at first, but it’s low price tag of $3 and the ability to try out tons of accessories and styles drew kids to Barbie.
Barbie’s style is constantly updated to keep her up with the latest styles and trends. Each year brought more and more Barbies, each one updated with the hair, makeup, and clothing of the era. This never failed to keep Barbie relevant and girls could always find more Barbies to add to their collection.
Barbie’s original job was a teenage model, but this has changed over the years. She first held many traditionally female careers such as being a dancer, airline stewardess, or nurse, however this has changed drastically with the times. Over the past decades, Barbie has held almost every career imaginable. Girls can have a Barbie who is a surgeon, a professional chef, an astronaut, or even the president. Seeing that Barbie can be anything she wants to inspires young girls to choose their own paths in their future.
As the years have gone on, Barbie has gone from exclusively a slender, white, blonde-haired woman, to a very diverse group. This change for representation in the world of Barbie has allowed girls to be able to go into the toy store and be able to find a doll that looks like them for them to relate to and play with. This is also important for young girls, especially ones who may not see themselves in other toys or media. There is even a bald Barbie that supports young girls fighting cancer.
In 2016, Barbie created three new body types for Barbie: petite, curvy, and tall. This was a huge step forward for the company, who had not made any drastic changes to Barbie’s body since her creation. Three years later, in 2019, Mattel made a new line of dolls called “Creatable world” though they are not technically Barbies, these were another important development for Barbie’s parent company. These dolls are gender neutral, and come with a wide variety of clothing, along with wigs to allow for short and long hair. This allows for kids to play with dolls that can be any gender they want, customizing the doll’s appearance, and adds to the inclusivity of Mattel’s doll lineup.
Since 1959, Barbies have been one of the most popular toys in the world. They inspire stylists, collectors, and kids everywhere. Barbies allow for imaginative play that is proven to help children’s long-term development. Even in Ancient Rome, there were children playing with dolls. Creating narratives and personalities for this fictional character helps kids learn about themselves and the world around them. Barbie can be a role model for young people, especially nowadays, teaching them about beauty through representation and inspiring them to follow their dreams, whatever they might be.
Here at L. Royalty, we love Barbie for her storied history, and for the decades that she has served as a fashion icon. She has worn thousands of different outfits, spanning nearly every trend imaginable since her inception. Her chic world of fun style and of course, all things pink has always been at the core of our brand identity.
For a great rundown of some of Barbie’s most iconic styles over the decades, watch this video.